Fan the Flame

November 13, 2009 at 1:37 am (Articles, Family, Friends & Ministry) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

fan the flame

Posted by Abigail

When we burned large brush piles, my brothers and I used to have contests to see who could get their fire going quickest with only one match.  Have you ever tried to build a fire?  The word “build” describes the process perfectly.  It takes careful insight, thought, preparation, effort and then careful nursing to get the embers blazing brightly.

 

Paul told his son in the faith, Timothy, to fan into flame the gift that had been given him—which appears to be evangelism.  If even a gifted evangelist had to be reminded to put on the heat, we should be encouraged that the work is the Lord’s, just as the glory is His.  I’m embarrassed to confess that I begged the Lord to send me someone else to lead in evangelism, claiming a lack of gifting and my timidity as excuses.  Paul spoke to me when he reminded Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline.”  Sharing the gospel isn’t about having the right personality.  It’s about recognizing that the power comes from the Holy Spirit.  It’s recalling God’s lavish love for us and in dwelling on it, overflowing with His merciful love toward others.  And it’s about disciplining ourselves to obey—by the Holy Spirit’s strength.  The Christian life is hard work.  It’s a battle.  Always.  Any day that I am not fighting, I must realize that I have likely withdrawn to hide.  And any day that I go to battle without seeking the Lord’s strength, I am sure to fail.  Sharing the gospel is certainly no less a battle and it requires discipline.

 

As April, Lauren and I have talked about Christ’s command to “go,” we’ve sought to add fuel to the fire, considering how we can best discipline ourselves to do what we know is right.  Accountability has proven to be a great fuel so far.  It seems that each time April and I are together, the Lord sends an opportunity to one of us, and the other is left excited, to pray and encourage.

 

We’re all agreed that prayer is an important element.  We’re told to pray that God’s kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Scripture is clear that God is delighted when His eternal message is proclaimed, and He delights to use the simple foolishness of the God who became a man, to save sinners and change lives.  Paul said, “Pray for us that we might speak the word boldly as we ought to speak.”  Often through prayer, I find not that God’s heart was changed, but that mine was changed.  I have to plead for the Lord to give me the agony He suffered for those who walk in ignorance and enmity with Him.

 

Studying God’s word is an absolute necessity.  Constantly I am faced with question after question about God’s character, His goodness, His love, the end of the world, what about so-and-so, sin, God’s purpose in pain and suffering and on and on.  Ladies, sharing the gospel will drive you again and again to dig into God’s word to find the powerful truth that sets souls free.  Perhaps this is even God’s purpose in calling us to share His gospel?  It keeps before our eyes the very mystery by which we were redeemed.  And when you’ve been in God’s word, you’ve been sharpening your sword, and you’ll find that the Holy Spirit takes over and does the fighting.  Time after time I’ve parried a blow with a scripture the Lord mercifully brought back to mind.  Time after time I’ve found the perfect answer later and had to store it away for another opportunity.

 

Meditate on the gospel.  Study the gospel.  Seek to understand Christ, His work, His purpose, His claims and His offer of salvation.  The more you study it, the more you will discover the riches of the glory of the inheritance in Christ.  People can tell if you believe what you say and you will find that each time you share the gospel, you learn something more.

 

Lauren is a homemaker, who has expressed to me that she doesn’t feel like she’s a great conversationalist.  “I can’t put people at ease and relate to them,” she told me once, but her passion for truth often opens opportunities for her.  She can’t bear to hear error spoken of the Lord.  When the Jehovah’s Witnesses knock at the door, she doesn’t feel disgust while peeping through the curtains.  She opens the door and invites them in.  Each time she tells me about another encounter, I shake my head.  I don’t know how she does it.  I remember the time the Mormons came for a presentation in her college dorm and she insisted she wanted to go talk to them.  I felt sick as we rode down the elevator and Lauren began asking the Mormon missionaries hard questions.  Our friend, Emily, sat beside me silently praying the entire time—her priceless contribution to the spiritual battle.

 

April is a gifted encourager and she has always sparked my fire by her simple way of sharing what the Lord has been teaching her–to anyone who will listen.  Someone asks her how she is and she opens up and tells them what she read that morning in Psalms.  Or how the Lord has shown Himself strong in her life.  Or how He has been convicting her of the eminence of eternity and His love for her friends that don’t know him.  Yahweh commanded the people of Israel to tell to their children His mighty deeds so that they might fear Him.  When put on trial, Paul’s defense was always simply his testimony.  Whether a person knows the Lord or not, hearing His power manifested to another can draw them to Him.  April’s words are worship to God, and overflow from a heart in love with Him, preaching to others the reality of His work in her life.

 

I wish I could tell you of some way I take opportunity for the Lord, but I still lack much discipline.  I find when I ask the Lord for opportunities, He gives them abundantly, with people who stop me to ask me questions or need my help.  One day I was almost late picking Papa up from work because a lady was pouring out her heart to me as I stood in her small sewing machine repair shop.  Anxiously, I smiled and nodded, then rushed away.  But Papa put my heart back in place when I told him about it.  He said something like, “If people talk to you, that may be opportunity from the Lord.”  To keep this in mind, I am trying to allow myself extra time running errands, to leave room for eternity.  All too often I find that the urgent edges out the important for priority.

 

Lauren, April and I are all different, and each of us has a different story with the Lord and a different way of sharing what He’s done.  As we’ve talked lately, I’ve realized how the Lord can use each gifting, each personality to share His gospel in a unique way.  Your story is unique, your person is unique—but you are Christ’s.  He is yours.  And He has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline.

April, Lauren and I have all found materials from The Way of the Master and Living Waters tracts to be very helpful in sparking conversations.

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Rachel & Jillian said,

    Hey – just wanted to let you know our site is up (still under partial construction – but it’s up!) and we would love to feature one of your articles on there. Do you have any to share at the moment?

    Thanks, and God bless!

    ~Rachel & Jillian~

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